Europe has taken further steps towards an appealing old-school new technology – an alternative transport system and multi-modal travel network, composed of capsules powered by magnets, known as the “hyperloop”. New partners have been announced for the project and a high profile visit from members of the European Parliament has taken place.
Belgian innovation, pan-European cooperation
The magnetic system, which will be able to transport people and goods in a capsule and steel tubes at speeds of up to 700 km/h (435 miles an hour) is being developed by Belgian company, Denys, alongside the city of Antwerp, the Flanders Institute for Logistics and more than a score of other cities and organisations across Europe, including Hardt Hyperloop engineers at the Delft University of Technology.
A 200-metre-long stretch of hyperloop already exists in the Dutch city of Groningen. That is set to double by the end of 2023. “By Christmas we’ll have 420 m of tubes and the test facility will be ready,” said Tim Houter, co-founder of Hardt Hyperloop.
A first phase of testing, starting at speeds of 100 km/h (62 mph), will take place early on the pilot route in 2024 and should be reported on by Q3. According to Houter, a functional model could be commercialised anywhere. Hardt engineers predict it could be seen on the streets of Europe by 2030.
From cleaning to levitation and drones
Last week in Rotterdam, members of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee met with hyperloop architects and engineers, as well as transportation and infrastructure stakeholders involved in the Hyperconnected Europe project.
At the Hyperloop Experience Center, they explored a hyperloop vehicle cabin, as well as a multimodal route planner that compares travel times across different modes of transport, CO2 emissions, and energy consumption. They were also given a taste of hyperloop propulsion and levitation, and treated to a visit of the Hardt Hyperloop’s low-speed test centre and Future Mobility Centre where real-world possibilities for the science were presented.
Like other communal transit options that leave from hubs, such as trains or shuttle buses, hyperloop options require so-called “first and last mile” solutions to get potential passengers door-to-door. The Rotterdam delegates saw how the hyperloop could interact with autonomous cars and even drones. More prosaic but vital aspects of making the hyperloop a reality were also looked at, such as safety and maintenance.
It is sustainable, it is energy efficient, it is quiet, and it is fast!MEP Caroline Nagtegaal
Helmpje op, liftje omhoog en de testtube in van de @HardtHyperloop— Caroline Nagtegaal (@C_Nagtegaal) November 7, 2023
En hoe zit je er dan over een tijdje bij? Zo⤵️
Met deze magneetzweeftrein ben je dan in half uurtje van Rotterdam CS in hartje Parijs.
Vandaag met mijn EP collega’s in Rotterdam een update gekregen over deze… pic.twitter.com/jMD6U8kjOW
Commenting on the visit, MEP Caroline Nagtegaal, Transport and Tourism Committee member, said that the hyperloop “is not a utopia anymore, it’s becoming a reality. It has the potential to be of great value complementing the European mobility system.” She hailed its “great value” within the European transport network.
Natgegaal also called for an “EU-wide regulatory framework” to support the development of the hyperloop and harmonise its pan-EU “Hyperconnected Europe” roll-out to better meet the needs of users and business.